Monday, March 13, 2006

a fecund weeping

My eyes? "I'll make a river flow there." So she said.

My heart? "It will bleed till it's full of blood," she said.

And my body? "Just wait a few days more,

I'll show the world your shame, and throw it out the door."

#1047: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Key idea: weeping

I've decided this morning to pick up the thread of pain, left somewhat dangling at blood money. Here we have Rumi in conversation with his feminine friend, his beloved conceived as woman, and she is promising him all sorts of bad things. Not pleasure, but pain; not joy, but sorrow; not pride, but shame. The last two lines seem to allude to an unwanted pregnancy, evidence that a young woman has been precociously promiscuous. One imagines that her family will evict her from the family home, throw her out the door and into the street, there to fend for herself however she can. Of course, the oddity in all this is that, this time, the pregnancy occurs in a man.

The idea of male pregnancy is old and widespread. In classical mythology, it turns up as Zeus giving birth to Athena from his head, after he had swallowed his pregnant wife, Metis. In a more modern story, Henrik Ibsen's play, Hedda Gabler, a book written by a male character, Eilert Lovborg, is characterized as his child with a female character, Mrs. (Thea) Elvsted. She has acted as his fertilizing inspiration. When Hedda burns the manuscript of the book, she gloats (in her envy at Thea's relationship with Eilert): "Now I am burning your child, Thea!--Burning it, curly-locks! ... Your child and Eilert Lovborg's. ... I am burning--I am burning your child." Thus does the Third Act of the play come to its dramatic conclusion.

In Rumi's case the fertilizing power was Shams, a male impregnating a male, and the child was the eventual poetic output which framed Shams' insights, this collection of verses in honour of Shams and later, the larger opus of the Mathnawi. The child was born of the pain of Rumi's love for and then loss of Shams under tragic cirucumstances, with his own son implicated in the murder. Quite an irony that he would seek refuge in a different kind of creativity, one disconnected from biological reproduction!

This whole role reversal idea, with the woman impregnating and the man acting as womb, is closely related to the ambiguous alchemical mating of winged King and Queeen that was discussed recently under a struggle for dominance. The clearly distinct biological mating is contrasted with, even replaced by, this strange psychospiritual mélange. And the two coniunctios cross over to form the ultimate quarternio or sacred marriage, as I touched on briefly at an ancient secret.

Whew! All this derives from too much weeping!


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